The MP for Chester, Chris Matheson, made a step forward in his period dignity campaign this week. All MPs can now claim menstrual products alongside soap and toilet paper within office budget costs.
Chris raised this campaign with the Leader of the House back in October 2018. After months of pressure, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) announced that 3,200 staff and all visitors to MPs offices will now have access to basic menstrual products at work. This includes every constituency office across the country. Chris stated: “For those who question why menstrual products should be provided on office expenses – it about officially recognising that these products are a basic requirement – we have set the bar for all other employers to follow.”
“If an employer asked you to bring your own toilet roll to work, there would be uproar. Why are tampons and sanitary towels any different? Women and girls do not choose to have a period, a period is not a luxury but an expensive monthly cost. Indeed, UK research suggests that one in ten girls have been unable to afford menstrual products and one in five of girls have changed to a less suitable menstrual product due to cost. As a minimum, menstrual products need to be provided in schools – but we need to be aiming for menstrual products as a basic requirement in all places of work.”
Chris said: “This is a small step forward – but the standard has now been set. We cannot stop here – I would encourage all employers in Chester to provide menstrual products to their employees. It’s a question of equality and dignity.”
“I understand that periods are uncomfortable enough without adding the stress of being caught without menstrual products during a busy day. It is only by making changes in our workplaces, our schools, and in society, that women and girls will be able to have a positive and dignified period.”
“Menstrual products should be provided alongside free toilet paper and soap within places of work. Public and private sector employers need to be making this change.”
Chris is supporting the campaign by the Trade Union Unite, which is fighting to change attitudes towards periods by making access to menstrual products in the workplace and schools as normal as having access to things such as toilet roll.